Saint Croix River, Upper St. Croix and Eau Claire Rivers,St. Croix and Eau Claire Rivers Watershed (SC17, SC18)
Saint Croix River, Upper St. Croix and Eau Claire Rivers,St. Croix and Eau Claire Rivers Watershed (SC17, SC18)
St. Croix River (2601400)
19.71 Miles
135.30 - 155.01
Natural Community
Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results that use predicted flow and temperature based on landscape features and related assumptions. Ranges of flow and temperature associated with specific aquatic life communities (fish, macroinvertebrates) help biologists identify appropriate resource management goals. Wisconsin Natural Communities.
Coldwater, Cool-Cold Headwater, Cool-Cold Mainstem, No Classification, Large River, Cool-Warm Headwater
Year Last Monitored
This is the most recent date of monitoring data stored in SWIMS. Additional surveys for fish and habitat may be available subsequent to this date.
2015
Good
 
Burnett, Douglas
Trout Water 
Trout Waters are represented by Class I, Class II or Class III waters. These classes have specific ecological characteristics and management actions associated with them. For more information regarding Trout Classifications, see the Fisheries Trout Class Webpages.
No
Outstanding or Exceptional 
Wisconsin has designated many of the state's highest quality waters as Outstanding Resource Waters (ORWs) or Exceptional Resource Waters (ERWs). Waters designated as ORW or ERW are surface waters which provide outstanding recreational opportunities, support valuable fisheries and wildlife habitat, have good water quality, and are not significantly impacted by human activities. ORW and ERW status identifies waters that the State of Wisconsin has determined warrant additional protection from the effects of pollution. These designations are intended to meet federal Clean Water Act obligations requiring Wisconsin to adopt an 'antidegradation' policy that is designed to prevent any lowering of water quality - especially in those waters having significant ecological or cultural value.
Yes
Impaired Water 
A water is polluted or 'impaired' if it does not support full use by humans, wildlife, fish and other aquatic life and it is shown that one or more of the pollutant criteria are not met.
No

Fish and Aquatic Life

Current Use
The use the water currently supports. This is not a designation or classification; it is based on the current condition of the water. Information in this column is not designed for, and should not be used for, regulatory purposes.
FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
Attainable Use
The use that the investigator believes the water could achieve through managing "controllable" sources. Beaver dams, hydroelectric dams, low gradient streams, and naturally occurring low flows are generally not considered controllable. The attainable use may be the same as the current use or it may be higher.
FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - waters that do not have a specific use designation subcategory assigned but which are considered fishable, swimmable waters.
Designated Use
This is the water classification legally recognized by NR102 and NR104, Wis. Adm. Code. The classification determines water quality criteria and effluent limits. Waters obtain designated uses through classification procedures.
Default FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - Default Waters do not have a specific use designation subcategory but are considered fishable, swimmable waters.

Overview

The St. Croix River currently has good water quality. This section of the river is used extensively used for recreation by boaters and swimmers. The entire river is designated as a National Scenic Rivenvay. Urban development along the shorelands and on tributary streams and agricultural nonpoint source pollution threaten water quality and aquatic habitat in the river. This portion of the river also has a fish consumption advisory for PCB and mercury contamination in fish tissue. The PCB contaminated fish tissue problem may be in part caused by fish moving upstream from the Mississippi River which is known to have sources of PCB contamination.

The St. Croix River is classified as an Outstanding Resource Water from the northern Hudson city limits upstream. This portion of the river receives extremely high levels of recreational boating use. Urban and rural residential development impacts the aesthetic qualities of the river and threatens water quality and aquatic habitat. The city of Hudson WWTP discharges secondary effluent immediately upstream of Lake St. Croix. Hudson is not required to remove phosphorus from its effluent while Minnesota requires dischargers above Lake St. Croix to remove phosphorus (See Lake Report - Lake St.Croix). It is important that point source discharges and nonpoint source pollution are controlled in order to protect this high quality river. This portion of the river also has a fish consumption advisory for PCB and mercury contamination in fish tissue. The PCB contaminated fish tissue problem may be in part caused by fish moving upstream from the Mississippi River which is known to have sources of PCB contamination.

The St. Croix River is classified as an outstanding resource water for 14 miles with in this watershed and as an exceptional resource water for 7 miles. The entire river is also a national wild and scenic waterway as designated by the National Park Service.

The St. Croix River is classified as a state outstanding resource water in this watershed and a national wild and scenic waterway as designated by the National Park Service.

Date  1992

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Saint Croix River, Upper St. Croix and Eau Claire Rivers,St. Croix and Eau Claire Rivers Watershed (SC17, SC18) Fish and Aquatic LifeSaint Croix River, Upper St. Croix and Eau Claire Rivers,St. Croix and Eau Claire Rivers Watershed (SC17, SC18) RecreationSaint Croix River, Upper St. Croix and Eau Claire Rivers,St. Croix and Eau Claire Rivers Watershed (SC17, SC18) Fish Consumption

General Condition

The St. Croix River from the Saint Croix Flowage to Vermont Creek was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (macroinvertebrate Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) and chloride sample data were clearly below 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. This water was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Ashley Beranek

Condition

Wisconsin has over 84,000 miles of streams, 15,000 lakes and milllions of acres of wetlands. Assessing the condition of this vast amount of water is challenging. The state's water monitoring program uses a media-based, cross-program approach to analyze water condition. An updated monitoring strategy (2015-2020) is now available. Compliance with Clean Water Act fishable, swimmable standards are located in the Executive Summary of Water Condition in 2018. See also the 'monitoring and projects' tab.

Reports

Recommendations

Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
ATTAINS Water Identified for Protection
Friends of the St. Croix Headwaters (FOTSCH) is initiating a project to complete aquatic plant and aquatic invasive species monitoring in the St. Croix River, including the headwaters between Upper St. Croix Lake and the St. Croix Flowage and below the Gordon Dam to Hwy T. The project includes a 2010 community information/education event as well as a visual field guide that describes the local aquatic plant community. Project deliverables include: 1) aquatic plant survey results and report, including spreadsheets and GIS files; 2) one set aquatic plant vouchers; 3) aquatic plant visual field guide; 4) AIS survey maps and reports; 5) information/education event summary; and 6) any other presentations or information/education tools developed.
ATTAINS Water Identified for Protection
Friends of the St. Croix Headwaters (FOTSCH) is initiating a project to expand community outreach, learn from and grow the first St. Croix Riverfest, and conduct an organizational assessment. Grant funds will be used to pay a staff person (i.e. Executive Director) who will be a liaison to community groups and local government, evaluate St. Croix Riverfest, and build sustainable tourism partnerships in the watershed. Project deliverables include: 1) a final report on the project, including St. Croix Rivefest evaluation results and recommendations, organizational assessment overview, and community outreach summary and 2) educational/publicity materials developed.
ATTAINS Water Identified for Protection
The Friends of the St. Croix Headwaters (FOTSCH) will sponsor a project to build the capacity of the organization through increased membership and stakeholder support. With this project FOTSCH will conduct water quality monitoring on the Upper St. Croix River, conduct an educational outreach program, develop a river protection strategy including the identification of areas needing remediation, and become an advocacy group for river protection through local zoning, best management practices and statewide protective designations. A membership committee will be established to plan and implement member/volunteer initiatives. Opportunities for citizen involvement in river oriented events will be provided including development of a video, canoe/kayak trips, participation in Water Action Volunteer (WAV) monitoring, identification of invasive species etc. Water quality monitoring will be conducted through the citizen based WAV program and monitoring conducted by the UW Stevens Point CWSE including two tributary and four river sites, baseflow, spring runoff and event sampling. Project deliverables include: 1) copies of all educational materials developed, 2) organization effectiveness assessment results, 3) CWSE report on water quality monitoring results, and 4) Copy of the river protection strategy Project results will be share through press releases, public meetings, public mailings and web site information.
ATTAINS Water Identified for Protection
St. Croix Scenic Valley Coalition, Inc. proposes to enhance its capacity by: 1. Training for board and committee members 2. Development of work plan 3. Development of long range fund-raising plan 4. Establishment of member data-base 5. Development of brochures, website and powerpoint presentation. Project results will be disseminated to the public at workshops, especially those conducted by the River Stewards Network, through news releases promoting activities and through community education programs. Both electronic and paper copies of the final report will be provided to the DNR.
Nine Key Element Plan
Lake St. Croix Nutrient Total Maximum Daily Load Nine Key Element Plan - The St. Croix River, its tributary streams and rivers, and Lake St. Croix are highly valued resources that provide exceptional recreational opportunities and support diverse wildlife in and out of the water. However, over the years eutrophication, or nutrient enrichment, has occurred in Lake St. Croix due to increasing amounts of phosphorus entering the lake from the watershed. The elevated level of phosphorus in Lake St. Croix results in algae blooms which diminish the enjoyment and use of the lake and impact the ecologic integrity. Elevated phosphorus levels not only impact Lake St. Croix, but also impact tributary streams, rivers, and lakes throughout the watershed. While progress has been made in recent years to understand and reduce the amount of phosphorus finding its way into streams and lakes, much work remains.
ATTAINS Alternative Restoration Approach
Lake St. Croix Nutrient Total Maximum Daily Load Nine Key Element Plan - The St. Croix River, its tributary streams and rivers, and Lake St. Croix are highly valued resources that provide exceptional recreational opportunities and support diverse wildlife in and out of the water. However, over the years eutrophication, or nutrient enrichment, has occurred in Lake St. Croix due to increasing amounts of phosphorus entering the lake from the watershed. The elevated level of phosphorus in Lake St. Croix results in algae blooms which diminish the enjoyment and use of the lake and impact the ecologic integrity. Elevated phosphorus levels not only impact Lake St. Croix, but also impact tributary streams, rivers, and lakes throughout the watershed. While progress has been made in recent years to understand and reduce the amount of phosphorus finding its way into streams and lakes, much work remains.
Nine Key Element Plan
Lake St. Croix Nutrient Total Maximum Daily Load Nine Key Element Plan - The St. Croix River, its tributary streams and rivers, and Lake St. Croix are highly valued resources that provide exceptional recreational opportunities and support diverse wildlife in and out of the water. However, over the years eutrophication, or nutrient enrichment, has occurred in Lake St. Croix due to increasing amounts of phosphorus entering the lake from the watershed. The elevated level of phosphorus in Lake St. Croix results in algae blooms which diminish the enjoyment and use of the lake and impact the ecologic integrity. Elevated phosphorus levels not only impact Lake St. Croix, but also impact tributary streams, rivers, and lakes throughout the watershed. While progress has been made in recent years to understand and reduce the amount of phosphorus finding its way into streams and lakes, much work remains.
Nine Key Element Plan
Upper St. Croix - Eau Clair Rivers PWS Plan - Nine Key Element Plan - The Upper St. Croix - Eau Clair Rivers Priority Watershed is at the headwaters of the St. Croix River and the Mississippi River system. The historical significance of this resource is well documented in many accounts referring to the beauty and abundance of this outstanding resource. In 1988, the St. Croix River was designated as an Outstanding Resource Water by the State of Wisconsin. The Upper St. Croix - Eau Clair Rivers watershed project has a protection orientation, as opposed to the more traditional remediation based watershed projects, and takes a proactive approach to prevent nonpoint pollution before it happens.
Monitor Fish Tissue
2601400 name St Croix River TMDL ID 618 Start Mile 17.43 End Mile 44.29
Monitor Fish Tissue
2601400 name St Croix River TMDL ID 618 Start Mile 44.29 End Mile 54.14
Action Migrated from WATERS
Conduct a water quality assessment in the St. Croix River to determine if sources of PCB's are present. Three procedures that may be applicable for the river are deployment of caged fish, lipid bags and hexane bags (Type B).

Standards Details

Per NR 102.10 (a) (1): St. Croix River between the northern boundary of the Hudson city limits and the St.Croix flowage dam in Douglas County except that the portion of the St. Croix River from the northern boundary of the St. Croix Falls city limits to a distance one mile below the STH 243 bridge at Osceola shall be classified exceptional resource waters under s. NR 102.11.

Date  2009

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Management Goals

Wisconsin's Water Quality Standards provide qualitative and quantitative goals for waters that are protective of Fishable, Swimmable conditions [Learn more]. Waters that do not meet water quality standards are considered impaired and restoration actions are planned and carried out until the water is once again fishable and swimmable

Management goals can include creation or implementation of a Total Maximum Daily Load analysis, a Nine Key Element Plan, or other restoration work, education and outreach and more. If specific recommendations exist for this water, they will be displayed below online.

Monitoring

Monitoring the condition of a river, stream, or lake includes gathering physical, chemical, biological, and habitat data. Comprehensive studies often gather all these parameters in great detail, while lighter assessment events will involve sampling physical, chemical and biological data such as macroinvertebrates. Aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish communities integrate watershed or catchment condition, providing great insight into overall ecosystem health. Chemical and habitat parameters tell researchers more about human induced problems including contaminated runoff, point source dischargers, or habitat issues that foster or limit the potential of aquatic communities to thrive in a given area. Wisconsin's Water Monitoring Strategy was recenty updated.

Grants and Management Projects

Monitoring Projects

Watershed Characteristics

Saint Croix River is located in the St. Croix and Eau Claire Rivers watershed which is 197.28 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily forest (69.80%), wetland (28.60%) and a mix of grassland (0.90%) and other uses (0.80%). This watershed has 213.86 stream miles, 581.90 lake acres and 33,874.59 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Not Ranked for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked for runoff impacts on lakes and Low for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of Low. This value can be used in ranking the watershed or individual waterbodies for grant funding under state and county programs.However, all waters are affected by diffuse pollutant sources regardless of initial water quality. Applications for specific runoff projects under state or county grant programs may be pursued. For more information, go to surface water program grants.

Natural Community

St. Croix River is considered a Coldwater, Cool-Cold Headwater, Cool-Cold Mainstem, No Classification, Large River, Cool-Warm Headwater under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model resultsand DNR staff valiation processes that confirm or update predicted conditions based on flow and temperature modeling from historic and current landscape features and related variables. Predicated flow and temperatures for waters are associated predicated fish assemblages (communities). Biologists evaluate the model results against current survey data to determine if the modeled results are corect and whether biological indicators show water quaity degradation. This analysis is a core component of the state's resource management framework. Wisconsin's Riverine Natural Communities.

Cool (Warm-Transition) Headwaters are small, sometimes intermittent streams with cool to warm summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are uncommon to absent, transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are common to uncommon. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

Cool (Cold-Transition) Mainstem streams are moderate-to-large but still wadeable perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon, transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are common to absent, mainstem species are abundant to common, and river species are common to absent.

Cool (Cold-Transition) Headwaters are small, usually perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon (<10 per 100 m), transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

Fish Stocking
Fisheries & Habitat

The Saint Croix River flows south into the Mississippi River and is part of the Minnesota-Wisconsin boundary waters. Natural Lake St. Croix, though partially impounded, is situated on the lower portion of the stream in St. Croix and Pierce Counties. The Apple River is a direct tributary to the St. Croix River in 5t. Croix County. Managed as rock sturgeon, smallmouth bass waters. Most common fish species in this stream include smallmouth bass, walleyes, largemouth bass, black crappies, rock bass, white bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, brown bullheads, carp, white suckers, quillbacks, gizzard shad, burbot, sheepshead and blue suckers. Rock sturgeon, northern pike, sauger, perch, bluegills, pumpkinseeds, brown trout, buffaloes, redhorses, longnose gar, shortnose gar, bonefin, and mooneye are also present.

The St. Croix Islands Wildlife Area near Somerset accounts for 3.68 miles of the public frontage on the river. Also, a 66 foot town road access is located at the Marine ferry landing. One resort, a Boy Scout Camp and 15 cottages and homes are its private development.

This stream provides habitat for muskrat, beaver and broods of mallards, blue-winged teal, wood ducks and hooded mergansers. Canada geese, coots and other ducks of the puddle and diver groups may be found here during the migratory seasons.

From: Sather, LaVerne M. and Threinen, C.W., 1961. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of St. Croix County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1961

Author   Aquatic Biologist

More Interactive Maps